Sales Advice From the Late, Great Yogi Berra

The late, great Yogi Berra, king of life’s philosophical one-liners, once said “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.” Yogi Berra was talking about having goals. I am not sure if he was thinking of sales people when he made this comment, but if he did, he hit the nail on the head.

I know a lot of sales people that say they want to be successful. The problem is they don’t know what they want to achieve or what real success looks like. And, like Yogi Berra said, they “end up some place else.” Simply put, goals serve as our compass, always pointing us in the right direction. And, goals are the first step in owning your time rather than managing it as well as achieving real success in sales.

M.A.D. Time Ownership™ Philosophy
You will never know where to most effectively spend your time,
if you don’t know what you want to accomplish with your time.

Determining where you want to go and what you want to accomplish with your time is easy. Here’s how.

  1. Set realistic, yet challenging goals with a quarterly, semi-annual or annual time frame.
  2. Break your goals down into weekly then daily goals. This is the key. This step makes challenging goals simpler, easier to think about and more importantly, makes them more manageable on a daily basis.
    “Never underestimate the power of small things repeated over time.”
    – Bert Thornton, Former President of Waffle House
  3. Write your goals down. Writing them down forces you to take ownership of your life and your time. Even though goals serve as our compass, it’s hard to find your way if you don’t bring the compass with you on your journey.
  4. Keep Score. Keeping score lets you know how far you have to go and how much progress you have made. Keeping score also helps you keep your “eye on the ball” and keeps you motivated to achieve your goals.

Here’s an example of goal setting with Brad, a sales rep I worked with in late 2014.

Step 1:    Set realistic, yet challenging goals with a quarterly, semi-annual or annual time frame.

Brad said he wanted to generate $1.5 million in sales by Dec 2015. Based on his business, this sounded like a solid goal – he knows where he wants to go. Sounds good. But is it realistic? So I asked “how much of the $1.5 million is going to come from current clients?” Response from Brad? “Not sure.” Ouch. It’s hard to understand whether or not your goal is realistic and challenging if you don’t know what your current clients can contribute to the goal.

After a few minutes of discussion and thought, he said his current clients would contribute roughly $1.1 million to the $1.5 million goal. Now, we focused on the $400k in sales that he would need from new clients. When I asked him how he would hit the $400k mark, he said “get in front of more prospects.” OK. Not an awful start, but that is like saying that you want to train for and run a marathon and your only plan is to just ‘run more.’

To get started, we figured out that each current client generated an average of $30k in sales. So, he needed roughly 14 new clients in 2015 ($400k/$30k). Brad said that he needed 60 new qualified prospects per year to generate 14 new clients. Then he said he needed 250 new contacts to generate 60 new qualified prospects. So his new goal was 250 new contacts by Dec 2015.

Step 2:    Break your goals down into weekly then daily goals.

Now we had to break down his new goal of 250 new contacts by Dec 2015 into a goal that was simpler, easier to think about and more manageable on a daily basis.

  • 250 new contacts equals 5 new contacts per week (250/50 weeks).
  • 5 new contacts per week equals 1 new contact per day! I don’t know any sales person that can’t make 1 new contact per day.

Step 3:    Write your goals down.

Before our work together, Brad used to put his “to-do” list, not his goals, on a whiteboard hanging on a side wall in his office. And his list usually included to-do’s or activities that had nothing to do with achieving anything other than busywork. Now, his goals are on his whiteboard and the whiteboard is hanging on the wall directly in front of his desk.

For 2015, he had his high level goals of $400k in sales and 14 new clients (what he needs to reach $400k) as well as his weekly goal of 5 new contacts and daily goal of 1 new contact. These goals were now staring him in his face on a daily basis. Essentially Brad carried his compass with him on his journey to sales success in 2015.

Step 4:    Keep score.

Keeping score was easy for Brad. At the end of each week, Brad counted how many new contacts he had made, how many new contacts had been converted to qualified prospects, how many qualified prospects had become new clients and the amount of sales generated. If Brad did not make his 5 new contacts by Thursday each week, he kicked into high gear and became super focused on making his number by Friday at Lunch. If he had achieved his weekly goal of 5 new contacts by Thursday of each week, he still went into high gear to make more contacts to get a jump on the next week.

Brad ended 2015 ahead of his goal with 19 new clients and $25k in sales. So, to be successful owning your time and generating sales success, follow the late, great Yogi Berra’s advice – know where you want to go so you don’t end up somewhere else.